In this quietly probing memoir, Blew (English/Univ. of Idaho; Jackalope Dreams, 2008, etc.) chronicles how she tried to escape her rural Montana roots as a young adult, only to be unexpectedly “called home” by an academic job that would both liberate and entrap her.
The great granddaughter of “one of the earliest homesteaders in central Montana,” the author had toughness in her blood. However, she was determined to leave ranch country and make something of herself. Education was her way out, but as a young married woman in the 1950s, social expectations forced her to walk a thin line between family and personal ambition. Nevertheless, with two babies and a husband in tow, she earned a doctorate in English. While not the simple teaching certificate demanded by the maternal side of her family, her degrees promised a self-sufficiency that aligned, albeit uneasily, with her mother and grandmother’s vision for her. Blew eventually found work at a small Montana college where, as a young assistant professor, she came face-to-face with the reality of just how hard she would have to fight to fulfill her ambitions. Not only did she find herself at violent odds with a husband unable to cope with having a professional wife; she also got caught in a sexually charged game of cat and mouse with the college president that cost the unyielding Blew her job. The author eventually found much-deserved success as a scholar and writer at Idaho.
A fierce and unsentimental book that stands eloquent testament to the high price that women of a certain generation had to pay to pursue their dreams.